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Green warriors:
Laura Cornell's Green Yoga Association blends yoga and ecology

Summer 2006

by Tresca Weinstein

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, KYTA member Laura Cornell showed her yoga students pictures of the Hindu goddess Kali and the class meditated together on the forces of destruction and compassion.

To bring awareness to the plight of California's oaks and redwoods, which are threatened by a plant disease called sudden oak death, Laura and her students sent love and blessings to the trees as the class practiced Tree pose.

"Yoga teachers have the opportunity to bring some light into this area of darkness and fear," says Laura, who founded the Green Yoga Association in Emeryville, California in 2004. "We need to find ways for our yoga to help reconnect us to this planet. In the United States, we have taken so strongly to this practice of yoga, but at the same time we haven't yet looked at how yoga helps us take care of the earth, how it can give us strength to take on the unprecedented challenges we face."

The Association—which last fall hosted its first Green Yoga conference, attended by 135 yoga practitioners and activists—?grew out of Laura's research for her doctoral dissertation on yoga and ecology, which she designed as a collaborative project with five other Kripalu Yoga teachers: Hasita Agathe Nadai, Ben Lord, Tanuja Daniel, Leanne Ovalles, and Bob Bruce. Through study, discussion, self-observation, and sharing, they explored ways to incorporate ecological awareness into their practice and teaching.

"We looked at how we could be a source of compassion and healing for the planet, and how we could release our self-judgment in terms of our actions on the earth, but at the same time have the courage to take new steps to love the earth," Laura says.

Historically, ecology has played a vital role in the yogic tradition. In Vedic times, Laura explained, the whole cosmos was seen as the body of God or the Goddess, with the different species of animals and plants reflecting the different aspects of divinity; practicing a posture named after a plant or animal was a way of embodying its soul quality. The concept of ahimsa, nonviolence, grew from a deep reverence for the universe and all it contained.

With conferences, a newsletter, a powerful values statement, and a website that has received more than 30,000 visitors, the Green Yoga Association aims to rekindle that sense of reverence. Through its Green Studios Pilot Program, yoga teachers at studios around the country are helping to develop ecological guidelines and resources for yoga teachers, covering everything from infrastructure to programming.

Laura believes it's no coincidence that the Green Yoga Association was launched by Kripalu Yoga teachers. "There's a great respect within Kripalu's lineage for the inner wisdom of the practitioner," she says. "The idea of listening within and following your inner guidance can be expanded to include a conscious attunement to prana in the external environment as well."

To learn more about the Green Yoga Association and its Green Studios Pilot Program, visit

Complete list of articles by this author:

The 1999 KYTA Conference Fosters Excitement and Growth

KYTA's Teaching for Diversity Program

Scenes from a Conference: More than 300 teachers attend KYTA Conference 2000

Snapshots from KYTA Conference 2001

Bindu Source Johnson shares her experience

Coverage of the 2002 KYTA Conference, Oct. 24-27

Tides Foundation awards KYTA $50,000 for yoga teachers serving diverse populations

Yoga on Tape: Reviews of yoga products created by KYTA members

Yoga on Disc and Tape

KYTA Conference 2003 in words and pictures

KYTA Conference 2004

Yoga on Disc

Kripalu implements new approach to program assisting

Complete guide to Kripalu Yoga hits the shelves

Coverage of KYTA Conference 2005

Enhancing your teaching with yoga's sister science: Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist training begins in January

A sneak peek at KYTA's 2006 Yoga Teachers Conference

Yoga on Disc

Green warriors: Laura Cornell's Green Yoga Association blends yoga and ecology

Yogagaia tells the story of the universe

The yoga of laughter: Keni Fine's Sleeping Swami brings giggles and guidance to the world

Yoga on Disc: Reviews of new yoga products created by KYTA members

Changing the world in memory of a daughter: The Rachel Greene Memorial Fund

Yoga on Disc: Reviews of new yoga CDs from our members

Yoga on Disc: Reviews of CDs by KYTA Conference 2007 presenters and entertainers

Reigniting the flame: KYTA Conference 2007

New member discounts are here! Save every time you visit Kripalu

Flow states: Questions for Ed Harrold

Yoga on Disc

Yoga on Disc, Tape, and Paper

Yoga Ed. trainer awarded $150,000 grant to bring yoga to Pittsburgh public schools

Yoga Everywhere: Spotlighting our Teaching for Diversity grant recipients

Yoga on Disc and on the Page

Green Yoga Association takes new form

Yoga on Disc and on the Page: Reviews of recently released products

Yoga and the Imagination: A Q&A with Randal Williams

Yoga on Disc and on the Page

How we got to the KYTA Conference, and what we found there

Yoga Everywhere: A column spotlighting our Teaching for Diversity grant recipients

Yoga on Disc

Profile of a Cross Trainer

Seva CD 2008: The Soundtrack of Kripalu

Restorative Yoga: The Yoga of Meditation

News from the Professional Trainings Office

Deep Green Yoga

Yoga on Disc and on the Page

The State of the Training

Yoga + Ayurveda: The Perfect Formula for Balance

Edi Pasalis and the Institute for Extraordinary Living pioneer a standardized Kripalu curriculum.

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